On Friday 15 July, Frs Andrew Kwiatkowski, Brian Muling and Ignatius Tan were ordained to the priesthood at St Patrick’s Cathedral by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli. The Archbishop gave the following homily.
‘I know my own,’ said Jesus to his own people. ‘I know my own.’ This was the work of the Good Shepherd. He needed to know his own, so that he could then lay down his life for them. The gift that Christ gave of himself, a gift that was most fully realised sacrificially on the Cross, could not have been given without first this personal knowing. A priest worthy of that title, a priest seeking to live after the heart of the Good Shepherd, needs to learn this way of giving. What are the elements of such a priestly life?
The first thing to note is that Jesus was not speaking generically. To know someone to whom you wish to give yourself requires knowing them individually, personally. What makes them tick? With whom do they walk? How do they understand themselves in the world? Knowing in the way of the Good Shepherd is always personal.
Secondly, it was an attentive knowing. The Good Shepherd got close to those to whom he gave himself. Just think of the way Jesus healed. It was never a ‘stray’ healing, but always involved him getting to know the one who called to him—Bartimaeus, the ten lepers, the man among the tombs, the woman who anointed his feet, Jairus’ daughter, his friend who was crucified with him. All of them different individuals, each personally attended to.
A third way in which the Good Shepherd knew his own was according to their hopes and desires. He knew them so that he could give them what they needed, not what he needed. He did not get to know them for the sake of some ulterior motive, or to achieve some goal, or to get them to fit according to a fixed criterion. Their lives mattered; their hopes, their dreams. ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Finally, the Good Shepherd knew his own who came from outside. Those not of the fold, those from elsewhere, those so far beyond they are barely there: these, too, are personally known to the Good Shepherd. They, too, were his friends, whom he reached out to; they could hear his voice calling them in.
Brian, Ignatius, Andrew: be this kind of Good Shepherd. Live this way. Be such a priest after Christ’s own heart.